A 2019 movie The Grizzlies, set in Nunavut, shows how youth are reclaiming their culture to heal from the effects of colonization and the Indian Residential School system.
The movie follows a new teacher, Russ, coming into the North to teach for the first time. He experiences culture shock upon arriving in the community and in the classroom, especially. Russ wants to use his love of lacrosse to help the youth in the community who are living with the generational trauma. Many youths face such challenges in northern isolated communities due to colonization and residential school legacies. He finds himself struggling between providing opportunities for these kids to play and giving them false promises their community has grown weary of hearing from outsiders.
Upon first glance, this movie seems like it will be a “white saviour” storyline like Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, Avatar, and Dances with Wolves. The producers of Grizzlies worked with the Inuit Elders and community to ensure that this narrative wouldn’t take on that stereotype, and they made a significant effort to ensure the relationships between characters were real and that the community remained self-determining and true to themselves.
This movie team plans to release in-class materials and lesson plans for teachers to incorporate the film into their curriculum. Nunavut has the highest youth suicide rate in Canada, making materials such as this so necessary. This movie speaks on the effects of the Indian Residential School system, colonization, intergenerational trauma, and culture shock, along with how culture plays a significant role in community and empowerment.
If you think this movie belongs in your classroom, check out the educational license links below:
Hello Cool World Educational License
The Grizzlies Educational License is available for DVD and digital formats as of September 3, 2019, at hellocoolworld.com/store. Schools in Canada can receive half off the posted price by using the promo code: grizzlies4csc
Resources for Educators
Hello Cool World is offering educational modules for teachers via a login provided with the purchase of its educational license. Intended for use in conjunction with the screening of The Grizzlies, this resource will be available in September.